Paint and Stain Applicators

Pick the right paint and stain applicators to give your paint project professional-looking results

Stain Applicators - Paint and Stain Applicators

A successful paint or stain project begins with choosing the right applicator that meets your needs. This buying guide highlights the different types of applicators available, including brushes, rollers, sprayers, foam pads and more.

Tip: Clean your applicators as soon as you finish using them, and do not ever leave them soaking in water or solvent. Hang your applicators during storage to prevent misshapen or matted bristles.

Applicator Types

Using the right applicator will save you time and money while striving for professional-looking results. Choose from paint sprayers, rollers, brushes and more.

Paint brushes  are one of the more common types of paint and stain applicators. A top-quality brush will hold more paint, streak less, lend a better finish and last longer.

  • Brushes with natural fibers are softer than synthetic and perform better when paired with oil-based paints.
  • Synthetic fibers in brushes offer more versatility and be used with all paint types.
  • Available in range of widths and angles.


Paint rollers are great for painting or staining large surface areas quickly.

  • Smaller size rollers are helpful for hard-to-reach areas like corners or trim intersections.
  • Power rollers carry their own paint supply and continuously pump paint into the roller for a fresh supply with every application, saving time.


Paint sprayers are designed for large jobs and can usually apply any type of paint or stain. They are great for getting paint into cracks and crevices on fences, decking and siding.

Brush-style foam applicators can be very precise in painting edging and wall details.

  • Pads are available in 9-inch widths and eliminate splattering.
  • Edgers often have guide wheels to create clean, even lines.


Rags are useful when applying stains, but they are not conducive for speedy applications.

Textured applicators help create interesting and unique effects on furniture, walls, ceilings and more.

Applicators Used in Common Paint and Stain Tasks

Whether painting or staining edges or corners, furniture or trim, or large surfaces, there are several applicators ideally suited for each task.

Task Recommended Applicators

Painting edges and corners

  • Pad
  • Angled brush
  • Foam applicator

Painting furniture and trim

  • 4-inch roller
  • Brush
  • Foam applicator

Painting large surfaces

  • 9-inch roller
  • Power roller
  • 9-inch pad
  • 3- or 4-inch brush

Staining furniture and trim

  • Brush
  • Foam applicator
  • 4-inch roller
  • Rag

Staining large surfaces

  • 9-inch roller
  • Pad
  • Sprayer
  • 3- or 4-inch brush